Much effort in systematic conservation planning has gone into devising measures and algorithms which are efficient at capturing the biological importance of different candidate areas. While cost is at the theoretical heart of complementarity based analyses, little empirical attention has been paid to explicitly incorporating cost into conservation planning. Here we begin to address this gap by utilising the first estimate of management costs for ecoregion conservation across the entire African continent to examine the consequences of incorporating estimates of management costs into conservation planning. We apply a recently developed equation linking empirical costs data to economic indicators and the size distribution of reserves to estimate the annual funding required to effectively manage reserve networks covering 10% of each of Africa's 118 ecoregions. Our estimates suggest that US$630 M/year (0.1% of African Gross National Income) would achieve this goal. However, within this the costs per ecoregion vary widely. Analysis of this variation in cost emphasises that high costs are likely to be correlated with high endemism or threat and that focussing exclusively on cheap areas is unlikely to achieve conservation goals. We also used the cost estimates to examine the potential for improving cost-effectiveness in conservation planning by comparing cumulative representation of vertebrate species and the associated management cost of reserves under different prioritisation schemes where cost was included or excluded. We found that factoring the cost of conservation management into the planning process results in a marked increase in the cost effectiveness of a given prioritisation scheme. This suggests that further improvements in systematic conservation planning are more likely to come more from measuring and integrating cost and other socio-economic considerations than from focusing exclusively on refinement of biological criteria.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2004
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